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Press Release

Hosted by Kunsthaus Bregenz, Black Archive was born of a brief informal encounter with a racist image while visiting the region. It was an image of “the Moor,” an unnamed, curly-headed black figure on the label of the local beer, Moren. I saw Bregenz as the quintessential place to discuss matters of race and iconography. Borrowing two images from the Edward J. Williams Collection of negrobilia, I built an exhibition to address, in strictly formal ways, the complexity and contradictions of the racialized fetish, material cultural, and White imaginary: a Black faced Shirley Temple in The Littlest Rebel, a 25 foot minstrel, a remix of Joseph Beuys’s Ja Ja Ja Ne Ne Ne into schwarz schwarz schwarz Weiß Weiß Weiß; and Austrian paper conservators and binders rebinding and “healing” aged and tattered volumes of Ebony and Jet masgazines. These five pieces, which activated the racial imagination in the famed Peter Zumpthor’s temple, made room for the Holy St. Laurence, builder of temples and libraries along with my roof works - a medley of objects assuring us that a vocabulary of images is being created that complicates not only my understanding of myself, but of my place in the making of forms.